This is a story of one early learning service and how they have responded to the pandemic within their community of children, families and fellow educators. Windsor Community Children’s Centre (WCCC) in Melbourne, share how deep reflection, the power of community and strong support has helped them navigate this time and find a way ahead.
As we see the world change before our eyes, the idea of connection becomes stronger than ever. We here at Windsor Community Children’s Centre (WCCC) have reflected deeply on how we respond to the world and not so much how we react to it, as a shared way of navigating the way ahead.
This pandemic has shown us the value of our community; for the children to have a safe space to play, for families to feel comforted in having their children in care, for our educators to continue to come together, planning and implementing programs that support and inspire all of our WCCC children, whether they are in the physical building or at home. It has been a powerful opportunity to build an even stronger connection with our families. The relationships here have allowed us to push past the fear and embrace the community of families, educators, children and parents.
Our Centre‘s vision, to endeavour to care for and educate young children towards being community-minded, environmentally aware and respectful members of society, is more important than ever during this time. We are committed to nurturing our children through best-practice early learning to become engaged in the community within the Centre, and in the wider community around us.
We as a community have decided to share WCCC’s approach to the current landscape, which always advocates in the best interests of all children.
Three-and four-year-olds articulate this vision so clearly. When surveyed by their educators asking, ‘What makes you feel better at this time?’, they gave statements such as, ‘I love that we can still go to Kinder,’ and ‘Dancing and going to Windsor’. While family members who were asked explained, ‘I feel better because of the way our community I engage with has responded’.
When we asked how educators felt about the virus, one stated, ‘At times fearful for my own family, who are so young. At other times I feel inspired by the kindness we see. I think at the start I felt really anxious and then I had a sense of it being ok and we keep doing what we are doing and remaining calm.’ A family member stated, ‘In the darkest times there is an opportunity for the most beautiful moments of human connectedness, so I am trying to find silver linings’.
A reason for this proactive approach is that our Centre wears the Code of Ethics like a cloak around us. We listen and share our stories with each other and we provide a ‘commitment to respect and maintain the rights and dignity of children, families, colleagues and communities.’ (Core principles, ECA Code of Ethics.) Our Director, when queried about what makes her feel better, shares, ‘Coming to work, but also being here to reassure educators, families and children. To reassure everyone that, yes, everything is crumbling around them but the educators are still here and it’s a safe place to be. We are a community.’
Each day, educators ask, ‘What do you need? How can I support you?’ We listen to each other and carry each other, providing explicit role-modelling to the children.
There are no face masks here. We are alert to signs of illness and we act accordingly to keep our community safe, but we do so with grace and humanity.
Here at Windsor Community Children’s Centre there is kindness, empathy and most important of all, there is trust. This is how we define community.